Hermosa Beach Councilmember Hany Fangary will step down from the panel next week as his family prepares to move to Manhattan Beach — capping a sometimes tumultuous tenure that included a pending lawsuit against his colleagues.
Fangary’s resignation, which he announced in a letter to the City Council on Christmas Eve, will go into effect Monday, Jan. 4.
The council, according to a Hermosa Beach press release, will discuss how to replace Fangary, whose second term expires in November 2022, on Jan. 12. The council, under state law, can appoint a replacement or call for a special election, but must make a decision within 60 days of Fangary leaving.
Fangary, in his resignation letter, wrote that he has been honored to serve the city’s residents and businesses, and praised Hermosa Beach staffers for their professionalism during the “turbulent times” of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am appreciative,” Fangary wrote, “of the friendship and support of the numerous residents and stakeholders I have interacted with during my service on the City Council.”
Mayor Justin Massey, in a statement, thanked Fangary for his time on the council — noting some of the city’s accomplishments during his tenure — and wished his family well in Manhattan Beach.
“With Hany’s help,” Massey said, “we ended the threat of oil drilling, stabilized our fire and police services, and accomplished much more.”
But things have been testy between Fangary and some of his colleagues since last year — providing some motivation, the councilmember said, for his family to leave the city.
During the 2019 leadership rotation — an annual and typically pro forma process of choosing a new mayor and mayor pro tem — the council bypassed Fangary, next in line to be the panel’s second in command, and instead chose Massey to become mayor pro tem, a largely ceremonial role. Councilmember Mary Campbell became mayor.
That decision revealed deep divisions among the council, stemming from months of tension between Fangary and his colleagues, primarily over a communication breakdown Fangary had with City Manager Suja Lowenthal. Fangary’s wife sued Hermosa Beach in December 2019, making allegations the council violated the Brown Act — California’s transparency law that dictates how public agencies operate — when it passed over her husband.
The city has argued the decision to name Massey and not Fangary as mayor pro tem did not violate the Brown Act.
Fangary, for his part, said in an email Monday that his resignation “will have no impact on the pending litigation.”
He also said that controversy was partly the reason for his family’s move to Manhattan Beach.
“We were slapped in the face by three councilmembers that we previously considered friends,” Fangary said, referring to Massey, Campbell and Councilmember Stacey Armato.
Fangary said in his email that he campaigned for all three of them. But then, he added, four days after Massey was sworn in following the November 2019 election, the trio voted for Massey instead of Fangary as the mayor pro tem.
“My wife and I thought that spoke volumes about human decency and integrity, and the lack therefore,” Fangary said, “and we decided this is not the place for us to spend the rest of our lives.”
Armato and Campbell, in emailed comments Tuesday night, said the reason Fangary did not become mayor tem was because those in leadership positions must have a working relationship with senior staff. Campbell, in her statement, said the council asked Fangary to resolve the conflict for several months but “that didn’t happen.”
“It’s a shame that Hany has personalized this situation and reacted in such an extreme way,” Armato said. “It is regrettable that Hany created this conflict and left it unresolved. I wish him and his family well in Manhattan Beach.”
Massey, meanwhile, denied wrongdoing.
“As Councilmember Fangary moves on, I am focused on celebrating his contributions to Hermosa,” Massey said. “To the extent they merit a response, the slights he perceives are imagined, and I expect the outcome of his lawsuit will reflect that fact.”